Black Turtle Cove – Santa Cruz Island Galapagos

This is the first day on the Eclipse Cruise ship and when departing from Baltra harbor the ship immediately headed towards Santa Cruz Island for an afternoon excursion in Black Turtle Cove. Located on the northern coast of Santa Cruz, Black Turtle Cove is a shallow mangrove cove that is visited only by Panga.

What is a “Panga” you ask? Well, they were our mode of transport off and onto the boats. These inflatable crafts held up to 15 people and managed the seas beautifully. Loading into four pangas, we began our adventure towards the Mangrove edged cove.



Our first afternoon in the Galapagos Islands, and the Three Banditos were on top of lava rocks to greet us. It was to be our first of many views of the beautiful and unusual Blue Footed Boobies.



Luckily I had put bug repellent spray on as it was late afternoon and we moved slowly along the mangroves in search of wildlife. Those that neglected to prepare were a fancy feast for the biting bugs. Keeping an eye on the landscape a Brown Pelican flew in for a landing.


Suddenly movement caught our eye in the water. Light golden brown silhouettes danced just below the water’s surface with fin corners reaching up every now and again. It was a school of Golden Rays. Black Turtle Cove is known for being the best place in the Galapagos to find the Golden (Mustard) Ray.

The serenity of the mangrove cove began to settle in and peacefully we floated on the water. Serenaded by Yellow Warblers and their sweet song, and Darwin Finches flitting back and forth between the trees, the long light of the late afternoon began to set in.

Then one of the most serene and peaceful creatures on our earth showed itself. Several Green Sea Turtles call Black Turtle Cove their home. One closely swam by the Panga, coming up for a breath and a look at the visitors.



Lava Herons were hiding within the Mangroves while Magnificent Frigatebirds flew high in the setting sun. This afternoon visit was truly magical and an incredible start of a week long’s visit in the Galapagos Islands.




Species Seen: Golden Ray, Spotted Eagle Ray, Baby Sharks, Green Sea Turtle, Sea Lion, Pufferfish, Sallyfoot Crabs

Birds Seen: Brown Pelican, Magnificent Frigate Bird, Brown Noddy, Blue Footed Booby, Yellow Warbler, Medium/Small Darwin Finch, Whimbrel, Lava Heron

35 replies »

    • Thanks Mark ! And..can’t thank you enough for calling me a wildlife photographer. Guess I’ve migrated into this venue. As you can, I absolutely love it. It was a photographic extravaganza, but also an extreme challenge. Imagine, low light and moving boats on the water = lots of fuzzy shots.

  1. Wonderful photos! I love the blue footed booby. It must be awesome to be floating around with all these wild creatures. Can’t wait for your next post! 🐠

  2. Such a magnificent story you have to tell! Thanks for sharing with us! Hard to believe that Yellow Warbler will soon find it’s way up here or even into Canada!!

    • I can’t wait until they get here too Judy. Although I believe these warblers stay in Galapagos. there are other migratory birds that I saw there that may come our way though. I’m so thrilled you’re enjoying this fantastic journey.

  3. You did a great job, coaxing a sea turtle to come to the surface for a quick pic. Any shots of Lava Heron? (I’m so spoiled by the wonderful job you do, I just want more!)

  4. Gosh, I can’t express how great this is to travel along with you (even if I’m a couple of weeks behind, just means I get to see them all in one pop!). It’s so inspiring and sort of pulls my heart strings (okay a lot, maybe I’m just emotional, lol) to travel with you. I can just imagine being there with you, feeling and tasting that hot humid air and the utter glory of all the wildlife. You make me wish I had made a detour to Galapagos when I visited Mindo many years ago to volunteer with Hummingbird research.

    Beautiful photos, they are of the quality I so remember admiring in scientific books as a child. The Blue-footed boobies always intrigued me as well as the Frigate birds. And the wingspan of that Pelican is crazy! Great underwater shot of the Sea Turtle too, us followers of yours are some lucky mother…yeah, we’re pretty lucky. πŸ˜‰

    Hey props for the bug spray, those things are no joke!!!

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